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British Open 2023: Royal Liverpool member Matthew Jordan dazzles home crowd, grabs spot on leaderboard

July 20, 2023
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Warren Little

HOYLAKE, England — Royal Liverpool member Matthew Jordan knew he was never going to walk alone, even when his girlfriend had to leave the gallery Thursday morning to go to work. Kate Harry, who works for DP World Tour productions in the “big green [TV] trucks” bailed after the seventh hole of the 151st Open Championship to go and log a 12-hour shift. Her boyfriend, meanwhile, strung together a tidy two-under-par 69 at the course he grew up on, and where he holds the course record (62). Only this round was in a major championship.

Jordan woke up before 5 a.m. and hit the first tee shot of the championship at 6:35 a.m. to raucous applause from a gallery packed with his girlfriend, family, friends and Royal Liverpool members.

“[Kate] got up before me, and she's not finishing until 9 p.m. herself,” he said. “She's got a few brownie points [from me] there. I'll have to treat her to a sandwich or something,” he added, laughing.

The 27-year-old Jordan, who plays on the DP World Tour, made it through 36-hole final qualifying up the road at West Lancashire earlier this month. He gave his supporters plenty to cheer for early on Thursday. With two birdies through five holes, he was leading the championship. Another two birdies, as well as two bogeys, from there placed Jordan in the clubhouse at two under and on the top five on the leaderboard.

“Obviously with the occasion and everything going on to start with, I'm really happy to certainly break 70,” he said.

Of the two bogeys, one was particularly impressive. At the par-4 11th, Jordan’s ball sat against the front lip of one of Hoylake’s brutal pot bunkers. But he defied physics to send it vertically and walked away with a miraculous 5.

“I haven't seen the bunkers like this at all. I don't know who's annoyed the green keeper, but they're just so flat (at the bottom) and so penal,” he said. “You just can't hit it in any bunkers whatsoever.”

Once Jordan reached the redesigned and maligned par-3 17th, with its brutal, turtleback green and cavernous bunkers, he laughed after the crowd went wild as his tee shot finished 22 feet from the hole. “I honestly didn't expect them to go that crazy. I couldn't not smile. I just had about three or four moments out there where the emotion kind of took over and I had to smile.”

Jordan kept smiling all the way down No. 18, even when he failed to make birdie despite a 330-yard drive down the fairway. Not even a par on a par 5 could dampen his spirits.

“I saw so many different members; it's hard to put a number on it,” he said. “To have that level of support and have people want you to do so well, it's just amazing. If I focus on each shot, then obviously it doesn't matter, and then afterwards with some of the holes like we described 1 and 17 and stuff like that, that can take over, and I don't mind showing emotion as long as I'm ready for the next one.”

Jordan tees off at 11:36 a.m. local in Friday’s second round. Now that he’s in the mix, he expects an even rowdier crowd.

“Well, people will probably have had a few more drinks,” he said. “That's one thing they couldn't do is start drinking at 6:30. Well, maybe my dad was if he was nervous. As I start to go into the tournament more, I think it will get a bit louder and louder.”

Is it the British Open or the Open Championship? The name of the final men’s major of the golf season is a subject of continued discussion. The event’s official name, as explained in this op-ed by former R&A chairman Ian Pattinson, is the Open Championship. But since many United States golf fans continue to refer to it as the British Open, and search news around the event accordingly, Golf Digest continues to utilize both names in its coverage.

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